Immigration activists demanded an apology from Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday after she used the phrase “illegal immigrants” during an appearance in New Hampshire.
Mrs. Clinton was touting her votes as a senator to back construction of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, telling a New Hampshire audience she supported “a barrier to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in.”
The support for the fence is galling enough to immigrant-rights advocates, who view it as a bogus solution. But her use of the term “illegal immigrants” landed her in more hot water, with the Dream Action Coalition saying it sounded like she was having an “identity crisis.”
“Immigrants have been fighting for their identity and dignity for generations,”
“Not only is Hillary’s casual use of the word ‘illegal’ offensive and dismissive, it shows us that she is out-of-touch with the community she claims to be advocating for by reducing them to a derogatory term,” said Hina Naveed, co-director of Dream Action Coalition. “There is no room to uplift a community when the conversation begins by taking away their identity.”
The Dream Action Coalition isn’t a completely unbiased organization. Two of its founders, who are no longer with the group, have taken jobs with Mrs. Clinton’s top competitor for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernard Sanders.
The Clinton campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.
But the fight over terminology extends well beyond Mrs. Clinton’s use.
Last week another group released a “Bill of Rights” for illegal immigrants, listing 10 steps ranging from a halt in deportations and a grant of citizenship to health care.
One of the items was a protest against the terms “illegal” and “alien.” Immigrant-rights advocates say both terms are dehumanizing, and have offered “undocumented workers” or “undocumented Americans” as their preferred term.
Immigrant-rights groups and Hispanic journalists have pushed newspapers to alter their own terminology, and some papers have complied.
The Washington Times uses the term “illegal immigrant.”